Inmates at the California Men's Colony (CMC) filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against state correctional officials on behalf of all inmates in CMC's East facility, challenging conditions due to overcrowding. The inmates, represented by ...
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Inmates at the California Men's Colony (CMC) filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against state correctional officials on behalf of all inmates in CMC's East facility, challenging conditions due to overcrowding. The inmates, represented by attorneys with the the ACLU's Los Angeles office, specifically alleged that double-celling, conversion of day rooms into dormitories, overcrowding, insufficient staff, deteriorating housing, programs, classifications and facilities violated their rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment. They also alleged a liberty interest in visitation, medical care and work protected by the 14th Amendment. The complaints arose with the implementation of double-celling at CMC to accommodate more prisoners. When double-celling was first instituted at CMC, the facility was running at about 102% of capacity. By June 1985, the population swelled to 159% of design capacity. Further plans for double-celling would have the facility running at 179.5% of design optimum. The inmates sought an injunction that would freeze intake of new prisoners and force the facility to enter into a court-monitored plan to increase staffing.
The District Court (Judge Pamela Ann Rymer) denied the inmates' motion for a preliminary injunction on May 31, 1984. The denial was affirmed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in an unpublished memorandum.
After the class was certified, trial was held in two installments in July and August 1985. More than 50 inmates and numerous correctional officers and experts testified, and Judge Rymer toured the facility three times. Judge Rymer issued her order, with detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law on October 9, 1985 denying relief to the inmates. Dohner v. McCarthy, 635 F.Supp. 408 (C.D. Cal. 1985). Although the court found that ""the inmates at CMC have been and still are subjected to an ordeal which comes close to the brink of a constitutional violation,"" the court nevertheless concluded that the double-celling, overcrowding, medical care, sanitation, food, clothing and safety did not violate the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, the court found that inmates did not enjoy a liberty interest in medical and mental health treatment, work credits or visitation.
The docket for this case is not available on PACER, and therefore our information is limited to the court's published opinion.Denise Lieberman - 10/17/2005